One of the key narratives around Bitcoin has always bot that it is a math-based, apolitical currency. Ter other words, the digital specie system wasgoed set up te a way that prevents political entities from altering the rules of the network. “The nature of Bitcoin is such that once version 0.1 wasgoed released, the core vormgeving wasgoed set te stone for the surplus of its lifetime,” Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto once waterput it.
Having said that, the possibility of making switches to the Bitcoin protocol is a possible vector for political attacks. With enough support from the Bitcoin-using public, a fork could spell trouble for those who wish to proceed playing by the original rules of Bitcoin, such spil the costs associated with operating a total knot (and thus limiting third-party trust at the base layer) or the digital currency’s monetary policy.
Bitcoin miners signaling support for specific protocol switches is sometimes mistaken for a vote on the rules of Bitcoin, but it’s unclear if there is much of a connection inbetween what miners want and how speculators will react once they are able to trade two different digital currencies based off the distribution of bitcoins at a specific block height.
Political Mining Pools
Te the setting of the current scaling debate, a few mining pools te particular have bot utterly adamant te their support for specific visions of how the the protocol should evolve te the future. ViaBTC and Bitcoin.com’s support for Bitcoin Unlimited has bot the most evident example of this phenomenon.
The idea is that miners who wish to see a hard-forking increase to bitcoin’s block size limit (by way of Bitcoin Unlimited’s concept of emergent overeenstemming) implemented into Bitcoin can point their hashrate at thesis particular mining pools. Volgers of this sort of philosophy have argued that 60 procent of the overall network hashrate may be all that is needed to activate this kleuter of switch ter Bitcoin.
But Miners Don’t Control Bitcoin
The main punt with the concept of mining pools choosing to promote a specific vision for Bitcoin’s overeenstemming rules is that thesis deeds have no bearing on what will toebijten once a fresh, forked version of Bitcoin is available to trade against the original version of Bitcoin. While miners can indicate their support for a specific proposal, it’s the users who will determine whether a successful hard fork has happened, an altcoin has bot created or the fresh version of Bitcoin has any support at all.
On top of that, it is oftentimes difficult to tell the difference inbetween a hard fork and an altcoin at very first glance.
Miners are ter the business of Bitcoin to earn block prizes, including transaction fees. When a hard-forking switch to Bitcoin is attempted, the end result is two digital currency networks by default (the original network without the rule switches and the fresh network with the proposed upgrades).
Instead of enforcing rules on users, miners should react to profit incentives. If a hard fork is activated and users remain on the original chain (thus assigning more value to the block prizes on that chain), miners will go after the more lucrative block prize and stick with the original chain spil well — or waste money.
Technically, miners could determine to act against their own interests and mine the less profitable chain. They could even attempt to force their proposed rule switches on users by attacking the original chain. But from the perspective of users, this would not be much different from any nefarious actor taking control of a large amount of hashpower and attacking the network (usually referred to spil a 51% attack). Te such a screenplay, users can deploy a hard fork to switch Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm, which would effectively make the miners’ expensive ASIC mining hardware worthless.
Te brief, the signaling of support for specific protocol switches or political views by mining pools may be useful spil nothing more than a marketing tactic. Those who wish to see hard-forking switches implemented te Bitcoin need to talk with Bitcoin users, not miners.
Are There Better Options for Gauging Support for Switches to Bitcoin?
Making any contentious switch to Bitcoin via a hard fork or soft fork is difficult, but not unlikely. Many soft-forking switches have bot made to Bitcoin te the past, but an intentional hard fork for the purpose of switching the rules of the network has arguably never bot executed.
The difficult opzicht of the hard fork spil compared to a soft fork is that everyone has to update their software for it to work. With a soft fork, it is said that switches can be implemented on an opt-in fundament because they are backward compatible. However, some dispute this declaration spil soft forks have the potential to lower the security of knots that do not upgrade. Blockstream Co-Founder Pieter Wuille disputes this voorkeur.
Gauging support for a hard fork is a difficult task. The developers behind Ethereum thought the hard fork to bail out DAO token holders would be such a no-brainer that they recommended exchanges not to worry about securing coins on the old chain. This led to the loss of vast amounts of customer funds on exchanges, such spil BTC-e, once it became clear that the old chain still had support from a segment of the overall Ethereum community.
The lack of useful devices for estimating support for hard forks is one of the reasons soft forks are preferred by the current crop of Bitcoin Core contributors. Soft forks spil implemented via BIP 9 can motivate users to react with their own hard fork, but the split chain is not the default (spil it is with hard forks).
At this point, there are coin-voting mechanisms such spil Bitcoinocracy and HODL.voting that showcase potential, but it’s unclear if either of thesis options will lead to downright onberispelijk predictions. Coin-voting mechanisms were also used spil the ondergrond for the false prediction that the Ethereum hard fork related to the DAO would not result te two chains.
Right now, the best way to gauge support for a hard-forking switch to Bitcoin, such spil an increase to the block size limit via Bitcoin Unlimited’s prototype of emergent overeenstemming, may be to execute the fork and see how the market responds.